It's here! The day online poker players look forward to all year! The 2012 World Championship of Online Poker Main Event!
With a $5,200 buy-in and eye-popping $5 million guarantee, the WCOOP Main Event bracelet has become one of the most coveted in all of poker. And with that huge prize pool, the winner takes away not just a much-sought-after piece of jewelry, but a heap of cash rivaling the biggest prizes awarded on the professional poker circuit. Just ask last year's winner, Thomas "Kallllle" Pedersen of Denmark, who took away a nifty $1,260,018.50 for the win even after making a final table deal.
No surprise, then, to have seen all of the excited tweets prior to the start of play...
@Liv_Boeree: The biggest day of the online year #WCOOP Main Event! Playing now on @PokerStars - good luck everyone! (Team PokerStars Pro Liv Boeree)
@elkypoker: Most exciting night of the year for online poker about to begin. #WCOOP is coming to an end in a blast with Main + 10k 8game. GO GO GO (Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier)
@tchanpoker: biggest day of the year in online poker; let's get 'em, friends! #WCOOP (Owner of one WCOOP bracelet and two SCOOP watches, Terrence Chan)
@FarazJaka: Most Important day of online poker in the year today. $5200 buy in World Championship of Online Poker will pay over $1 million for first. (SCOOP watch winner Faraz "The-Toilet 0" Jaka)
@mickeydp: With the #wcoop main event today is just like Christmas day (except that all your presents might be stolen at the end of the night), gl all! (Team Online member Mickey "mement_mori" Petersen)
Big Field, Big Money
Late registration remained open for four hours. However, even as the first hands were dealt it was obvious the $5 million guarantee would be easily met. Indeed, within a half-hour of play the total number of entrants had already crept over 1,200, meaning more than $6 million in the prize pool. It was clear the $1 million guaranteed prize for first place would be met as well.
Both the total entrants and prize pool numbers continued to increase steadily until registration was finally closed, with the final numbers settling thusly:
Total prize pool: $9,125,000
Places paid: 225
Those earning a minimum-cash would earn $12,318.75 for their efforts. But check out these final table payouts:
1st prize: $1,612,843.75
Besides besting the overall guarantee, the totals also exceeded what we saw for the 2011 WCOOP Main Event when 1,627 players created a $8,125,000 prize pool. In other words, this year's WCOOP ME saw exactly one million dollars more up for grabs!
Like the Main Event at the World Series of Poker, the WCOOP Main Event features deep stacks, long levels, and lots of play. Players begin with 20,000 chips, and blinds start at 25/50 with levels lasting 30 minutes. The schedule called for 20 levels of no-limit hold'em to be played on Sunday, with the survivors then returning Monday to find a champion.
It would take almost exactly 12 hours for players to play through those first 20 levels.
Hours 1-4: 1,825 to 1,615
The first hour of play on Sunday saw Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro, sanpri, and Helio TYF among those getting off to good starts, becoming the first players to cross the 50,000-chip mark in the early going. Kelopuro, of course, was looking to follow up his victory in the 2011 SCOOP Main Event, a win good for a better than $500K score.
The next couple of hours then saw OMG_POKISH from Denmark surge ahead of all to edge close to the 100,000-chip mark before falling back to the rest of the pack. Meanwhile Team PokerStars Pros Chad "ChadBrownPRO" Brown and Victor Ramdin had chipped up into the top 50 as they crossed into the fourth hour of play.
OMG_POKISH maintained the lead over the next hour, and at the four-hour mark still held the top spot among the 1,615 players still in the hunt. Here's how the top of the leaderboard looked at that point:
1. OMG_POKISH (Denmark) -- 79,634
2. HDVNAHIM (Brazil) -- 73,514
3. highbury90 (Sweden) -- 72,349
4. alex987 (Russia) -- 68,987
5. Robert "Little Kraut" Deppe (Canada) -- 67,241
Others accumulating big stacks by then included Chris "Big Huni" Hunichen (in 6th position), Tom "kingsofcards" Marchese (12th), Team PokerStars Pro Ville "V. Wahlbeck" Wahlbeck (23rd), and SCOOP superstar Shaun "shaundeeb" Deeb (27th). Meanwhile Team Pros Brown and Ramdin were still doing well with stacks good enough to claim spots inside the top 100.
Hours 5-8: 1,615 to 729
Over the next hour Deeb would chip up and into the top spot for a time as the lead pack together converged on the 100,000-chip mark. Then Redd Baronn of the Czech Republic would pass Deeb and take the lead.
It was about then that a strange hand developed at Redd Baronn's table in which Umumba -- winner of Event #17 ($320 NLHE, 10-min. levels) -- opened from under the gun with a min-raise and saw the entire table call except for Redd Baronn. As the eight-handed hand played out, Umumba had a question for Redd Baronn:
Umumba: baronn you dont like to play with us?
Redd Baronn: haha i am enjoying the chiplead with a glass of wine
A few more hands -- and a few sips of wine -- followed, then alex987 of Russia would nudge past all to be the first player to 100,000 chips at the five-and-a-half-hour break. Meanwhile, as the other Team PokerStars Pros fell from the top of the counts, Vanessa Selbst was moving up to close in on the top 50 with 1,250 players left.
As they crossed the six-hour mark more players began to crowd the top of the leaderboard with 100,000-plus stacks. About 45 minutes after that there were exactly 1,000 players left, with eyalcasias leading the way with just over 138,000 and danceofddead and JRADF79 fighting for second with about 127,000 each.
Play marched on through the eighth hour with JRADF79, brendon1717, B4d3m3!st3r, and a handful of others hovering around 175,000 as more players were eliminated. With 800 players left, the remaining Team PokerStars Pros had fallen off the first few pages of the leaderboard while Naoya "nkeyno" Kihara of Team Online had barely edged inside the top 100.
Soon it was MatejK992SLO of Slovenia becoming the first player over the 200,000-chip milestone. The tourney reached the eight-hour mark, at which point 729 players were left and the top of the counts appeared as follows:
1. MatejK992SLO (Slovenia) -- 212,244
2. Rios111 (Russia) -- 187,712
3. Tonimonntana (Austria) -- 179,859
4. B4d3m3!st3r (Germany) -- 176,752
5. a$$ou (Canada) -- 176,668
Others on the first page of the counts included Taylor "tRaMp$d0PrAy" Paur (in 9th position), Kyle "KJulius10" Julius (11th), Ole "wizowizo" Schemion (13th), Jason "PBJaxx" Senti (15th), Andrew "foucault82" Brokos (20th), and Dan "djk123" Kelly (21st). Meanwhile 2010 WSOP Main Event champ and Team PokerStars Pro Jonathan Duhamel had chipped up over 90,000 and into 84th position.
Hours 9-12: 729 to 245
Early in the ninth hour of play it was JohnyK91 of Greece seizing the top spot away from MatejK992SLO. Then came a huge hand between Rui "RuiNF" Ferreira and El Notorious which resulted in the latter grabbing a 200,000-plus chip pot -- the biggest of the tourney thus far -- to surge out in front with more than 275,000.
As you can imagine, the hand was a doozy -- quads over a full house. Take a look:
El Notorious would keep the lead for almost an hour, maintaining the same 275,000-chip stack throughout before T.J. "1BigAceHole" Ulmer chipped up to overtake the lead and carry it to the nine-and-a-half-hour break.
By then Team Online member Mickey "mement_mori" Petersen and Team PokerStars Pro George Danzer were taking their turns inside the top 100 with 462 players left. Danzer was looking to add yet another cash to the 14 he's earned in this year's WCOOP, among them a victory in Event #10 ($320 NLHE Ante Up) -- good enough for third-place in the 2012 WCOOP Player of the Series race as the series nears its close.
A little while later it was JohnyK91 pushing back in front after claiming a nearly 300,000-chip pot with K♠K♣ versus jonwayne69's A♦K♦ to move close to 350,000. Soon they crossed the 10-hour mark and exactly 400 players remained, led by JohnyK91, illu1212, 1BigAceHole, Brandon "Mazurite" Rollinson, and leech4555.
It was in the middle of Level 18 (blinds 800/1,600) when a hand arose between spfctri15 and hiltonboca that would produce a new chip leader. After spfctri15 opened for 3,679 from middle position, hiltonboca reraised to 7,200 from the big blind and spfctri15 made the call. The flop came 7♠9♥4♠ and hiltonboca led for 10,400. spfctri15 called. The turn was the A♥, bringing another bet from hiltonboca -- for 23,200 -- and another call from spfctri15.
The river was the 3♥. This time hiltonboca bet 83,200, spfctri15 raised all in for 136,330, and hiltonboca called. hiltonboca showed A♠A♦ for a set of aces, but spfctri15 had 9♥4♥ for a rivered flush to scoop the 356,860 pot and grab the lead.
By the time they reached the 11-hour mark, the field had been whittled to less than 330 players as spfctri15 had slipped back a few spots and JohnyK91 retook the top spot. Meanwhile two Team PokerStars Pros, Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Jude "j.thaddeus" Ainsworth, had each accumulated more than 230,000 to sit in the 26th and 27th positions, respectively.
The tourney reached Level 20 -- the last level of Day 1 -- during which moukari6 of Finland became the first player to 500,000 chips. Halfway through the level players took one last break for the night. Jonathan Duhamel took the opportunity to tweet a status update to his followers:
@JonathanDuhamel: 226/268 left in #WCOOP Main Event, 225 will make the money.
Play resumed, and when Mike "munchenHB" Telker of Cyprus flopped a set of 10s to top Vichyn88's pocket jacks and knock the latter out in 268th place, Telker chipped up over 558,000 and into the lead. Take a look:
Mike "munchenHB" Telker would push up over 600,000 for a time to increase the lead before ending the night with 587,433 chips and the lead as Day 1 concluded.
In the end 245 players would survive to return on Monday for Day 2. Here's a look at the top 10 overnight:
2012 WCOOP Main Event #65 ($5,200 No-Limit Hold'em), End of Day 1 chip counts:
1. munchenHB (Cyprus) -- 587,433
2. moukari6 (Finland) -- 536,563
3. hnidel (Czech Republic) -- 442,654
4. JRADF79 (Belgium) -- 422,268
5. The Lag rat (Costa Rica) -- 416,817
6. sly caveat (Portugal) -- 409,459
7. SNG Grind_15 (Norway) -- 405,168
8. Rens02 (Netherlands) -- 385,579
9. leech4555 (South Korea) -- 369,185
10. NL_Profit (Russia) -- 362,355
T.J. "1BigAceHole" Ulmer (15th), Ole "wizowizo" Schemion (22nd), and spfctri15 (25th) are also among those on the first page of the counts at day's end. And close by is Kevin "WizardOfAhhs" Thurman of Team Online in 30th position with just over 291,000 chips.
Thurman's Team Online teammate Mickey "mement_mori" Petersen also survived the night in 77th, as did Team PokerStars Pros Jude "j.thaddeus" Ainsworth (117th) and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier (121st). And Jonathan Duhamel made through with his short stack, too, ending the night in 218th.
Meanwhile George Danzer found himself one of the last eliminations of the night, finishing in 252nd. So, too, did 2012 SCOOP champ Sami "Lrslzk" Kelopuro see his 2012 WCOOP Main Event run end right at the end of Day 1 as he finished in 247th.
There's still a ton to be decided in the 2012 WCOOP Main Event. With just 20 more eliminations, the cash bubble will burst and the dividing up of that $9,125,000 prize pool will at last commence. And later Monday night one player will emerge as the next WCOOP Main Event champion!
Come back to the PokerStars blog for a full recap of tomorrow's Day 2 of the Main Event. While you're at it, check the WCOOP site for results of all 65 events in this year's World Championship of Online Poker. And be sure to check out WCOOP Radio tomorrow as well.
Martin Harris is a Freelance Contributor to the PokerStars Blog.